Alzheimer's: A Few Successful Alternative Therapies
ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE: SOME ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES
"(Research) suggests to me that if everyone started on a good nutritional program supplemented with optimum doses of vitamins and minerals before age fifty, and remained on it, the incidence of Alzheimer's disease would drop precipitously." ( Abram Hoffer, MD, PhD) http://www.doctoryourself.com/hoffer_psychosis.htmlHoffer A: A case of Alzheimer's treated with nutrients. J Orthomolecular Medicine 8:43-44, 1993. Also: Hoffer A: Alzheimer's - An Anecdote (letter) Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, No.179, 107-109, 1998
Dr. Harold Foster’s book, What Really Causes Alzheimer’s Disease, further discusses Dr. Hoffer’s work. The full text of this book can be downloaded, free of charge, at http://www.hdfoster.com/publications .
Supplemental choline has already shown promise in treating Alzheimer's Disease. In Geriatrics, way back in July 1979, lecithin was employed as a therapy to combat memory loss. Studies at MIT show increases in both choline and the vital neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the brains of animals after just ONE lecithin meal. (Today's Living, February, 1982)
It is important to use enough lecithin to have a reasonable hope of success. You can personally try taking a few tablespoons of lecithin granules (I take between 4 and 8 twice a week, for I want to remember all my great-grandchildren’s middle names and sweater sizes someday). Notice anything? You can feel the almost a caffeine-like increase in your awareness. That is probably the effect of an acetylcholine boost. Think what this might do for an Alzheimer’s patient. Lecithin is a very safe substance: it is difficult to hurt yourself with essential fatty acids and choline. Try lecithin granules in yogurt, in a fruit smoothie (write for free recipes) or, if you are really new to all this, on ice cream.
B-12 deficiency may be mistaken for, or even cause, Alzheimer’s disease. B-12 deficiency is easy to come by in the elderly: poor diet; poor intestinal absorption (due to less intrinsic factor being secreted by the stomach in the aging body, and possibly due to calcium deficiency); digestive tract surgery; pharmaceutical interference, notably from Dilantin (phenytoin); and stress all decrease B-12. It is necessary to measure the cerebrospinal fluid, not the blood, to get accurate B-12 readings.
Carper, Jean (1995) Your food pharmacy (Syndicated column). November 1.
Dommisse, John (1990) Organic mania induced by phenytoin. Can J Psychiatry. 35:5, June.
Dommisse, John (1991) Subtle vitamin B-12 deficiency and psychiatry: a largely unnoticed but devastating relationship? Med Hypotheses. 34:131-140
Murray, Frank (1991) A B-12 deficiency may cause mental problems. Better Nutrition for Today’s Living, July, p 10-11
Even marginal B-12 deficiency over a long time period produces an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Close to three-quarters of the elderly deficient in B-12 also have AD.
Garrison, Jr Robert H. and Somer, Elizabeth (1990) The Nutrition Desk Reference. New Canaan, CT: Keats, p 211.
Many popular dieting plans are B-12 deficient, including the Pritikin, Scarsdale and Beverly Hills diets, among others. The elderly are often dieting without intending to, simply because their normal appetite and taste functions are reduced. Emotional factors such as isolation, grief, and depression also contribute to their inadequate food intake, and therefore unhealthfully low B-12 intake. To make matters worse, B-12 deficiency itself causes further loss of appetite. And these symptoms of B-12 deficiency are all to reminiscent of diseases such as Alzheimer’s: ataxia, fatigue, slowness of thought, apathy, emaciation, degeneration of the spinal cord, dizziness, moodiness, confusion, agitation, delusions, hallucinations, and psychosis.
Injection or intra-nasal administration of B-12 is recommended because oral absorption is poor. There is no known toxicity for vitamin B-12. A minimum daily therapeutic dose is probably 100 micrograms, and closer to 1,000 mcg daily may be more effective. 1,000 mcg sounds like a lot, but it is actually the same as one milligram, which is about one thousandth of a quarter-teaspoon.
Fisher and Lachance (1985) Nutrition evaluation of published weight reducing diets. J Amer Dietetic Assn, 85(4) 450-54.
Goldberg, Donald (1985) Newsletter. 33, September.
Antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin E and carotene, may slow down or prevent AD. Alzheimer’s patients have abnormally low measurable levels of these nutrients in their bodies. This could simply be because they don’t eat well, or because the disease increases their nutrient need, or both.
Vitamin C, folic acid and niacin, as well as other nutrients, may also play a major role in combating AD.
Balch, J. F. and Balch, P. A. (1990) Prescription for Nutritional Healing. Garden City Park, NY: Avery Publishing, p 87-90. (Has a very good section on AD.)
Kushnir, S. L.; Ratner, J. T. and Gregoire, P.A. (1987) Multiple nutrients in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Amer Geriatrics Soc J, 35(5):476-477, May.
AD patients have a deficiency of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine because they are deficient in the enzyme, choline acetyltransferase, needed to make it. This results in curtailed manufacture and presence of acetylcholine in the brain. But there is a way around this: increasing dietary choline raises blood and brain levels of acetylcholine. Choline is readily available in cheap, non-prescription lecithin. ( Boston U School of Med, F. Marott Sinex, PhD)
A large quantity of choline (from lecithin) is necessary for clinical results. Lecithin is non-toxic.
Alzheimer’s Disease and neurotransmitters, Lets Live, May 1983, p18.
Little, et al (1985) A double-blind, placebo controlled trial of high dose lecithin in Alzheimer’s disease. J Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 48: 736-742.
Vitamin C and Tyrosine
Increasing the body’s level of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine may also help AD patients. Norepinepherine is made from the amino acid tyrosine, which is made from phenylalaine. We get plenty of phenylalanine from protein our diets if we eat protein foods, but the conversion to tyrosine and ultimately norepinephrine may not take place if there is a deficiency of another coenzyme: vitamin C. Vitamin C increases norepinephrine production. Vitamin C may therefore be of special value in the treatment AD.
Unintentional aluminum intake may increase the risk of AD as well. Aluminum cookware, aluminum foil, antacids, douches, buffered aspirin, and even anti-perspirant deodorants may all contribute to the problem.
A single aluminum coffee-pot was shown to have invisibly added over 1600 mcg aluminum per liter of water. This is 3,200% over the World Health Organizations set goal of 50 mcg per liter. Aluminum is known to build up in the bodily tissues of persons with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Aluminum is a known neurotoxin. Aluminum is also a component of so- called silver amalgam dental fillings. Composite (white) fillings do not contain aluminum (or mercury, for that matter.) Most baking powder contains aluminum. Rumford brand baking powder does not, however. Neither does baking soda, which is a different substance entirely.
Jackson, J. A.; Riordan, H. D. and Poling, C. M. (1989) Aluminum from a coffee pot. Lancet, I (8641) 781-782, April 8.
Artificial kidney dialysis has been known to produce dialysis dementia, a state of confusion and disorientation caused by excess aluminum in the blood stream. Animals injected with aluminum compounds will also show develop nervous system disorders. Conversely, Alzheimer’s disease can be treated with metal bonding (chelating) agents, such as desferrioxamine, which remove aluminum from the bloodstream. In appropriately high doses, vitamin C is also an effective chelating agent.
There have been many studies on the relationship of aluminum toxicity to Alzheimer’s disease. A Medline search will promptly uncover a large number of references on the subject. Some examples include:
Martyn, C. N.; Barker, D. J.; Osmond, C.; Harris, E. C.; Edwardson, J.A. and Lacey, R. F. (1989) Geographical relation between Alzheimer’s disease and aluminum in drinking water. Lancet, I (8629): 59-62, Jan 14.
McLachlan, D. R.; Kruck, T.P. and Lukiw, W. J. (1991) Would decreased aluminum ingestion reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease? Can Med Assn J, Oct 1.
Calcium and Magnesium significantly slow down aluminum absorption, and that’s good. Supplementation with 800 mg of calcium and 400 mg of magnesium every day may be therapeutic for AD patients. Here are two good presentations on the subject:
Garrison, Jr Robert H. and Somer, Elizabeth (1990) Nutrition Desk Reference. New Canaan, CT: Keats, p 78-79; 106; 210-211.
Weiner, Michael A. (1990) Aluminum and dietary factors in Alzheimer’s disease. J Orthomolecular Med, 5(2):74-78
Dooley, Erin E. (2000) Linking lead to Alzheimer’s Disease. In: Environmental Health Perspectives 108 (10) October, writes:
Scientists from Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals presented evidence at the April 2000 annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology that people who have held jobs with high levels of lead exposure have a 3.4 times greater likelihood of developing Alzheimer disease.
People can be exposed to lead on the job either by breathing in lead dust or through direct skin contact.
Lead has adverse affects on brain development and function, even at very low levels of exposure. Lead, unfortunately, is permeates out environment because of decades of adding it to gasoline. The good news is that very high dosage of vitamin C is known to help the body rapidly excrete lead.
I believe that aggressive use of therapeutic nutrition could substantially reduce the incidence and severity of Alzheimer’s disease.